STEPHEN R. MALLORY - MANUSCRIPT LETTER SIGNED 12/16/1861 - HFSID 40993
AS THE MERRIMAC NEARS COMPLETION, THE CONFEDERATE STATES' SECRETARY OF THE NAVY REQUESTS MORE GUNBOATS STEPHEN R. MALLORY. Manuscript LS: "S.R. Mallory" as Secretary of the Navy, Confederate States of America, 1p, 8x9¾ lined sheet. Richmond, Virginia, 1861 December 16.
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AS THE MERRIMAC NEARS COMPLETION, THE CONFEDERATE STATES' SECRETARY OF THE NAVY REQUESTS MORE GUNBOATS
STEPHEN R. MALLORY. Manuscript LS: "S.R. Mallory" as Secretary of the Navy, Confederate States of America, 1p, 8x9¾ lined sheet. Richmond, Virginia, 1861 December 16. On letterhead of Confederate States of America, Navy Department, to Charles G. Memminger, Secretary of the Treasury of the Confederacy. Begins: "Sir". In full: "I have the honor to transmit herewith an estimate for the construction of fifty additional gun boats amounting to $1,000,000, which you will be pleased to include in your estimate of expenditures, to the 1st of April next. This estimate has been this day submitted to Congress. With much respect I am Sir, Your Obt Sert". In this letter, STEPHEN R. MALLORY (1813-1873), who acted without hesitation and often without waiting for Congressional approval, notifies CHARLES G. MEMMINGER, the Secretary of the Treasury of the Confederate States of America, of his intention to construct 50 additional gunboats. Many of these gunboats would be used in acts of piracy and to break through the Union blockade of the Confederacy's coastline. Eleven months earlier, when Mallory had been appointed head of the Confederate Navy (February 1861), he gained an admiralty with no ships. The Civil War was declared in April 1861, giving him little time to organize and build a fleet. Nonetheless, he saw the advantage of the new ironclad ships being built in Europe and dispensed a buyer in May. That month, Mallory also authorized, without approval from the C.S. Congress, the resurrection of the USS Merrimac, scuttled in Norfolk Harbor, and its conversion to an ironclad. Renamed the CSS Virginia, the ship was reconstructed, taking nine months because of iron supply delays. In spite of these delays, on March 8, 1862, less than three months after this letter was written, and the day before the Union's ironclad, the USS Monitor, was ready, the Merrimac initiated an attack on the Northern fleet blockading the James River at Hampton Roads, Virginia. Although large and difficult to maneuver, the Merrimac rammed and sunk the USS Cumberland, burned the USS Congress and inflicted considerable damage to the North's remaining wooden sailing ships. The Monitor's arrival later that night provoked a battle (March 9), which, after more than four hours of intense close-range fighting ended in a draw. The historic battle between the Monitor and the Merrimac permanently altered the entire future of naval battles and warship design. Two months later (May 9), however, the Merrimac was destroyed by its crew to escape capture, while the Monitor was lost during a storm off North Carolina (December 31). By the time the first two ironclads were lost, more had been constructed and refined by both sides. Mallory's envoy to Europe continued to purchase unarmed ships privately so as not to jeopardize the neutrality of those European countries where his representatives bought the ships. At home, Mallory established efficient bureaus to organize and run the Navy and clothe and pay Confederate sailors. He also established a naval training center at Richmond that opened to corpsmen in the fall of 1863. Working against indomitable odds (insufficient funds, men and ships), Mallory, who was one of only three original Cabinet members who served throughout the entire Civil War (1861-1865), built a formidable Confederate Navy that bravely challenged the Union fleet. Mallory, who fled with President Jefferson Davis following the evacuation of Richmond, was arrested at his home on May 20, 1865 and remained a prisoner of state until March 1866. After his parole, the former U.S. Senator from Florida (1851-1861) who had been born in Trinidad, resumed his re-War law practice in Pensacola. Lightly creased with folds, not at signature. Slightly soiled, light ink transference at lower left portion. Fine condition. Framed in the Gallery of History style: 33¼x24½.